Wednesday, March 14, 2007

FYI: Fiber Savings for Institutions and Small Businesses

From out of California comes a story that won't interest everyone--but if you are associated with a medium-sized institution or business it might prove very interesting.

Here's the gist: A nice fat fiber pipe can mean a huge set of savings, particularly savings in internet connect fees and phone service. This has been true for awhile, of course, but the trick has been to be able to buy that fat pipe at a price that didn't kill your savings in the other areas. Since you had to pay for an expensive fiber install yourself the upfront costs could kill the deal.

Executive Summary: You had to be a big guy to get the good deal. (This is not news, no?)

The story linked to details the sorts of savings that were possible for a California Community College in San Francisco. They had to buy their own ring but got 20 times the internet bandwidth to their multi-campus unit for the same price and had a gig of internal bandwidth to burn for in-house applications. Most significant in terms of immediate savings was a switch from a standard centrix phone system in which they paid for every phone line and even paid for calls to numbers within their system. A sophisticated VOIP plan allowed them to drop almost all of their centrix contracts. And ended up with a much more feature-rich phone system to boot. (If you are paying for separate phone lines and being billed for calls to your in-house numbers you need off that plan....)

A great deal...for someone who can wrangle their own fiber ring.

The thing is, here in Lafayette you are about to get your own fiber ring. You'll be able to gain access to crazy-fast bandwidth without buying your own fiber strands. Killing the startup costs will make the sorts of major, continuing advantages that once only accrued to the big guys available to everyone who needs big internet bandwidth; who has multiple locations; or who looks with horror upon their monthly phone bill.

Our big guys, including UL, LCG, Hospitals, Community Colleges, and the parish school system need to planning to take advantage of this now--if they haven't already. (And I'd be interested in knowing if they have.)

But the really big advantage accrues to those who aren't the big guys: folks with 30 phone lines and below who currently have no real choices. Sit down and game this out--talk to some of our local geeks. Very fancy VOIP software is available for astonishingly cheap prices (e.g. FREE) and while you'd be wise to contract with a local to maintain it and troubleshoot the savings could be huge on this one factor alone.

New Executive Summary: Don't go signing any long term contracts right now....and start planning.

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